Chesterfield match report: Cook’s men enjoy ride on the Orient Express

Romuald Boco is congratulated by Daniel Jones after opening the scoring - Pic: James Williamson
Romuald Boco is congratulated by Daniel Jones after opening the scoring - Pic: James Williamson

Pre-match, Spireites boss Paul Cook nominated Russell Slade’s Orient as arguably the best side in League One.

Within seven minutes of the start he saw his League Two champions one up at the home of last season’s League One play-off final losers, and with just over ten minutes to go Spireites led by two.

The delight on the Chesterfield bench and amongst the travelling support was palpable, even the optimists hadn’t dared to dream of this scenario.

There were a few anxious moments after ex-Blade Darius Henderson bundled the ball in off his thigh from a yard for a debut goal on 82 after Tommy Lee’s block from Dean Cox’s low free-kick, but the visitors made it through to the end with no further significant scares.

The result was thoroughly deserved. The East London side created plenty of good chances, though when they broke through they found keeper Lee in inspired form, the neater play throughout came from the boys in blue.

Several lengthy, crisp, passing movements regularly had Orient, themselves a team of passers, chasing shadows, not what you want to be doing at home on a hot opening day.

It’s well documented that Spireites first eleven is decent but the depth of the squad is just north of gossamer thin, and that was clearly demonstrated when the subs’ list on the team sheet was studied.

Orient included marquee signings Henderson, Jobi McAnuff and Jay Simpson in reserve along with a trio of outfield players who all put in 25 plus appearances during their memorable campaign last season.

Cook selected Jay O’Shea and Ollie Banks, neither of whom is fit, plus four players with just five league appearances between them. Only Sam Hird was a potential first eleven starter of those on the bench.

Romy Boco, a player alongside Cook at Accrington before the Liverpudlian became his manager later at Stanley plus in three separate spells at Sligo Rovers, had been captured on non-contract terms only the day before the trip to London.

The Benin international though did his chances of earning a more permanent deal no harm when he spotted the opportunity after Jimmy Ryan’s 35 yard shot hit central defender Mathieu Baudry.

The ball lifted high but with little distance, allowing Boco, at full stretch and just inside the box to slide the ball home.

Soon afterwards Eoin Doyle, starting after Armand Gnanduillet turned an ankle on Friday morning in training, hit the post after robbing full back Elliot Omozusi.

Then enter Lee. The fans’ favourite enhanced his already huge reputation with a fine strop to deny David Mooney followed within 30 seconds by a double save to frustrate Cox and Kevin Lisbie.

Ahead of the keeper skipper Ian Evatt was in imperious form, closely followed by potential £1m man Liam Cooper.

Chairman Dave Allen has slapped that value, and not a penny less, on the former Hull City centre half.

Doyle forced a great save from Adam Legzdins after fine Gary Roberts work before Orient threw on their big guns, though that had no initial affect as Doyle was the next scorer.

Evatt lifted a clearance from the half way line, the ball bounced for the striker, who’d anticipated well, and he chipped the keeper, who got a hand to it but the shot had enough momentum on it to reach the intended target.

Henderson gave the O’s some hope but this was not a day when Chesterfield were going to give up the hard work they’d put in during a great 1 – 11 team performance.

n Orient: Legzdins 7; Omozusi 6, Baudry 7, Clarke 6, Lowry 7; Pritchard 5 (McAnuff 58, 7), James 7, Vincelot 8, Cox 7; Mooney 6 (Henderson 71), Lisbie 5 (Simpson 58, 6).

n Chesterfield: Lee 8; Darikwa 7, Evatt 9, Cooper 8, Jones 7; Ryan 7, Morsy 7; Boco 6, Roberts 7, Humphreys 6; Doyle 7.

n Attendance: 5619.